The Voices of the Past
Many years ago I watched a movie starring Peter O’Toole (the late British actor) called Lord Jim.. It was actually an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novel of the same name. In a nutshell, a young British sea captain by the name of Jim abandons the ship under his control during a massive storm. By some miracle the ship survives the storm without the captain and the crew and Jim is later publicly censured for this action. The story is about Jim’s later attempts at coming to terms with himself and his past. It’s an incredibly honest survey of a man’s glaring flaws and his sincere efforts to remedy them.
The Miran of episode 35 reminds me of Jim.. Here we have a man who sees a crack in his character that is so ugly it is unbearable. He had allowed himself to ignore the voice of his conscience and in doing so he hurt many people. Like Miran, Jim had ignored the voices of conscience at a critical juncture. Due to good fortune no one was killed, but it became a source of shame for Jim. Jim’s shame was in his cowardice… he had abandoned the ship to save his own life.
Similarly, Miran’s actions did not result in any deaths, but they held up for him his moment of shame. For Miran however, it was not cowardice that was the issue, rather it was a lapse in judgement. He had allowed himself to be manipulated.. he had allowed another to serve as master of his conscience.
I don’t know whether any of the writers of the series have a degree in psychology, but what they are taking on here is a monumental study in character development. In Joseph Conrad’s novel, Jim ultimately did make up for his action and many times over in fact. He became a legend, Lord Jim… It is the moment of truth for Miran as he is now face to face with perhaps his greatest flaw. That weakness which allowed him to be manipulated. What he does from this moment on to build his own character is important. He should take comfort in knowing that his initial instinct was correct. And even more comfort in being given the opportunity to live beyond his flaw. I will be watching with great interest to see how the writers bring Miran to terms with this flaw.
The truth is that we are all humans and we are all flawed. What brings any person at any moment to a particular decision is the totality of the person… his past, his experiences, his natural tendencies… Given the right catalyst these flaws will rear their ugly heads. We can only hope that the result will not be harmful… but even if it is, as in the case with Miran, there is the opportunity for redemption. But it’s not as simple as rebuilding a burned down hut, or buying gifts or even the expression of regret.. it starts with acceptance and then it builds from there.
Now to the recap..
This episode starts out with Miran presenting the shepherd as a witness to Azize’s lies. We don’t know what the shepherd actually saw, and strangely no one asks. The conclusory statement from the shepherd “Azize Aslanbey is a cruel woman who destroyed the lives of many and had no mercy on her own family” is an unusual way to corroborate that Azize lied. Perhaps what the shepherd saw wasn’t really that important, but what Miran heard while Azize was threatening the shepherd was. The fact that Azize would defame Miran’s mother in order to keep him focused on revenge was too much for Miran. He tells Azize that she is not worthy of the Aslanbey name and asks her to leave the mansion. She leaves, taking her trunk full of memories and much to everyone’s surprise Esma who goes with her willingly.
I don’t really understand Esma. She is either the most conscienceless human being in the world or the most cowardly. Why anyone would be a witness and an accomplice to such atrocities over so many decades and still hope to justify them is beyond my comprehension. I’ll withhold full judgement till the series ends, but for now, I am thoroughly disgusted with Esma.
Whatever anyone thinks of Azize there is no doubt that she is a strong woman. Her demeanor, her poise and her calm under intense pressure are inspiration and worthy of admiration. Here's a woman who like Gary Kasparov the chess player has plotted and schemed a revenge that has many pieces. She has adroitly used the people around her to move the chess pieces in her plan. She is unshakable and unflappable. It's too bad her energies are directed at causing pain. Think of the people she could have helped... the empires she could have built.. but perhaps without this hatred Azize might never have known the extent of her abilities, or the depth of her feelings. I can't applaud Ayda Aksal enough in bringing to life this despicable yet admirable woman. I can't imagine anyone else in this role.
While Azize and Esma head off to Esma’s house to live temporarily as Azize is sure to say (a house that Azize had bought for Esma apparently years before), Hazar goes back to the Shadoglu mansion to report what he had just witnessed. He tells them that Miran no longer believes that Hazar had dishonored his mother, but that he continues to believe the possibility that Hazar killed his parents. He tells them that to prove to Miran that he is innocent, he would find the killer and bring him to Miran. Upon hearing this Nasuh tries to head out to the Aslanbey mansion to confess but is stopped by Cihan who believes a confession now would put Azat in danger.
Also at the Shadoglu mansion, Yaren who is desperately trying to get out of marrying Harun overhears something that she can use to stop the marriage. She hears Azat tell Hazar that he knows Reyyan is not his biological daughter. This she hears while she's under the bed no less! (You'll have to watch the episode to see how she gets there)
And of course this is way too juicy an information for her to sit on for very long. She does spill the beans and when she does, it’s sure to bring the house down.
With Azize gone, Sultan takes on the mantle of the lady of Aslanbey mansion. She gives the mansion a facelift, hires a replacement for Esma, and plans a surprise visit to the Shadoglu mansion to bring a dowry for the newly wed Elif. I thoroughly enjoyed Sultan’s transformation to Lady Aslanbey. Her sarcastic wit, her tone of voice and her exaggerated flourishes are superb. A huge kudos to Gulcin Santircioglu who has created one of the most colorful characters in Sultan Aslanbey. She is relishing her new position, and even when she is threatened by Azize after having visited the Shadoglus, she seems to take it stoically. I can’t say for sure, but Sultan seems to have something up her sleeves.
Unfortunately for Reyyan the knowledge that led to Miran expelling Azize from the mansion is also driving Miran away Reyyan. Contrary to her belief that believing the same truth would bring them together, it is actually serving as a wedge between the two. But we knew this didn’t we? Because we always knew the depth of despair in which Miran would fall once he realized the truth… His conscience would not be able to bear the error of his judgement.
Miran is now not only guilt ridden about what he’s done but he is filled with shame as well. So much so that he cannot look at Reyyan in the eyes, and can’t bear to have her touch him. He cannot get beyond the fact that he allowed himself to be manipulated to go against his conscience. He tells Reyyan that he blames only himself for having made that decision because he did it knowingly. He also tells Reyyan that he understands now better than ever why she could lay in the same bed with him but not want him to touch her.
Miran is now face to face with his character as a man and he does not like what he sees. A man who does not like himself cannot see his worth to others either. Unfortunately such situations cannot be remedied from the outside by others, but rather by the person from within. In this regard Reyyan is completely helpless. It takes a man of strong character to realize and accept his faults. And it takes a strong character to realize that the worth of a man is not measured by a single action, but by the totality of his life.
In our society we are quick to make heroes and villains based on a single deed. But how can we be sure that the man who saved a child from a burning building doesn’t go home at night to beat his wife? Or how can we know that the man who robbed the bank didn’t take the money to feed his children that night? Hopefully Miran will realize that neither his worth nor his character is the result of a single deed. True, a single deed can show the best and worst of a person. But it is to the lucky person to whom life gives the opportunity to see the extent to which he will go… and the worst that he can do. Because most people live their lives never really knowing what they are capable of… never really knowing who they are. Miran now knows. What he does with this knowledge is what will determine his character and worth as a man.
Sukran seeing the growing distance between the two suggests that they go to her house in the village for the day for a change of scenery and some fresh air. The three go to the village and are surprised by Hazar and Gul. As Gul is taking a tour of the house she sees an old cassette player in Dilshah’s room. She asks Miran to play one of the cassettes and persuades him to dance with Reyyan.. while the two are dancing there is a break in the song and Dilshah’s voice fills the room.. she is in conversation with her friend Ayla. When Miran realizes who’s voice he’s hearing he falls to the ground and holds the cassette player close to his ear. His look of complete incredulity and the instant tears in his eyes show how much he has missed the sound of his mother’s voice. At that same moment, Hazar hearing Dilshah’s voice runs into the room and kneels on the ground listening in rapt attention.
This scene, perhaps the best 15 minutes on sccreen, with the words, the acting and the videography gave me goosebumps which lasted the entirety of the scene. As Dilshah’s voice speaks to him from the past, Miran hears how afraid she was of the Aslanbeys and how she was being forced to marry. He learns that Dilshah had asked Nasuh for help but she was turned away, and he learns that she had told Azize about her love for Hazar. But more importantly he learns that it was not Hazar who had separated his mother from his father, but rather it was Azize who had separated Dilshah from Hazar. In this beautifully filmed scene Dilshah told her son nearly everything he needed to know. After an emotion filled day, the father and son leave the house while Dilshah’s specter waves them goodbye. Perhaps at that moment Dilshah is resting peacefully in her grave.
At the Shadoglu mansion Yaren has just used her trump card with Nasuh. She tells him that if she is forced to marry Harun she will tell everyone that Reyyan is not a Shadoglu. Nasuh bends to her will and tells Harun that the marriage will not take place. He gives no reason for this and while the Shadoglus are battling this out, Reyyan and Miran drop Gul off from their day at the village. As if there wasn’t enough angst already, Yaren sees Reyyan and in a fit of anger and jealousy, tells her that she is not Hazar’s biological daughter. The episode ends with Reyyan looking at Hazar with a bewildered look.
Why Yaren felt she had to announce this at this particular moment is a huge mystery to me. She had actually gotten what she wanted. The marriage with Harun was now off. But her deep jealousy of Reyyan seems to have taken the better of her. And I fear that poor Yaren having used all of her trump cards, will now have to marry Harun anyway.
Other note of interest.
Azat tries unsuccessfully to get a loan for 20 million dollars in order to meet the terms of their contract, but the family is bailed out at the last minute by Harun who much to everyone’s surprise, is able to withdraw 20 million dollars with a single phone call.
This was the first episode directed by Baris Yos the new director replacing Cem Karci. It was clear from the very beginning of the episode that there was a new director in the seat. The scenes were filmed with moving camera at times to a dizzying extent. The camera panned from overhead and moved to very close up shots with different angles. Even the coloring in the scenes was different. Where Karci used more vibrant colors Yos uses muted tones.. On the other hand, I felt the scene directions were spot on. Miran’s usually thunderous voice was more modulated in emotional scenes. Overall I found the episode quite enjoyable, especially the last 15 minutes. I felt that the editing was smooth and the whirling cameras (while a bit dizzying at times) and the close up shots (angled very differently) elicited the desired affects.
As this was his first episode and as he was given a very short amount of time to prepare, perhaps this is not indicative of Yos's overall style. I am anxiously awaiting the next episode, not only to watch Reyyan’s reaction to the truth that she’s been told, but also how the next episode will be directed by our new director.
From the trailer for episode 36 (see below) it seems as though Reyyan will have a complete meltdown with the knowledge that Hazar is not her father. The next episode is sure to drive an even deeper wedge between the two lovers, but this is a necessary evil. As much as I dislike Yaren’s character, she has done everyone a great favor. This is one secret that had to come out, and it had to come out quite soon. I am now relieved that there is no longer a danger of Miran and Reyyan thinking that they are siblings. Secrets like this are bound to come out at some point, and why not when everything is in shambles already. Miran’s growing guilt, his rejection by Sukran, and Reyyan’s despair are sure to tear our lovers apart from each other.
How they will find each other again is yet to be seen. I imagine Reyyan, who is a generous soul, will remember Hazar's enduring and selfless love for her. I imagine she will reluctantly understand why he kept this secret (at Nasuh's behest), and she will eventually forgive. If I were Reyyan I would feel intense disappointment that I wasn't trusted with this knowledge, but perhaps this is a moot point given the nature of their family. What I don't know, and what worries me, is how Miran will get over this blow. Afterall, even if he could forgive himself for targeting Reyyan for his vengeance (which he cannot), it is in the belief that he was targeting Hazar's daughter... but to now know that Reyyan is not Hazar's daughter... that she was a truly innocent person in all of this... well, this will be the last nail in the coffin that he's put himself in. I fear things will not go well for our couple in the forseeable future.
But how will all this affect Azize’s planning? She is now more hate-filled than before and her vengeance has turned squarely on Miran. She is absolutely determined that Miran will kill his own father. How she plans to manipulate this outcome will be interesting to see.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next episode and the next.. and the next. Fridays can’t come soon enough.